A Quiet Place: A Librarian's Utopia
Spoiler Alert: Yes, I know, this is like the fourth movie I have reviewed that came out roughly a decade ago (Seven months, not a decade actually. But hey, who’s counting?). All things considered, it is worth covering all of the bases to make sure I do not miss out on analyzing anything with the potential to get nominated for an Oscar. Calm your horses; there will be plenty of newer 2018 movies that I will be dissecting in the coming weeks. Oh yeah, this review will have spoilers, just as a heads up. Read the usual “too long, didn’t read” synopsis and “Oscar Watch” sections in case you want to feel included in the memo, but would rather not read what’s actually inside it.
TL;DR Synopsis - 73/100 - An eye opening, original film that got a little too far-fetched at times
Now Onto the Review:
Much like Bradley Cooper did with “A Star is Born”, actor John Krasinski (AKA Jim from “The Office”) decided to venture into the unknown, and direct his first ever feature film this year. His debut movie, “A Quiet Place,” examined the influence that sound plays on our lives by creating a dystopian society where anyone who makes noise is attacked by psychotic monsters.
Remember playing hide and seek back in the day, and having to try incredibly hard to tiptoe around the house so that nobody could hear where you went? Remember freaking out when anyone around you made too much noise or talked too loud? Remember that time when you thought you were being really clever by hiding in the car instead of the house or the forest, but the person who was “it” ended up finding you within ten seconds because they heard you slam the car door from the other side of the yard?
Okay, maybe that last one was just something I stupidly decided to do one time. Everybody makes mistakes; let’s just forget it ever happened. Anyway, “A Quiet Place” brilliantly took this aforementioned concept, and asked everyone “what if we needed to live life like that every day or else we would die?” It was an astonishing concept that made me appreciate all of the little details encompassing my life.
Based upon all of the minute maneuvers the characters made to adapt to the conditions, it became abundantly clear that the cast and crew thoroughly thought out all of the ramifications of a society without sound. From putting sand on the pathway to their house, to the changing of the light colors to indicate danger, to learning sign language, the film not only shed light on the importance of sound, but also the brilliant adaptability of human beings. Everyone reacts differently to hardship, and the film delivered a nice modicum of different perspectives to the given crisis.
Aside from the cool themes, all of the actors bought into Director John Krasinski’s concept and played their parts well. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt (also married in real life) both played the role of parents trying to keep themselves and their children from succumbing to loud noises convincingly. You could sense the strong faces they put on, their love for their kids, and their determination to ensure they could survive in the most brutal of conditions. Their non-verbal emotions were excellent. Everyone’s ability to adjust to all of the struggles they faced and not make a sound boggled my mind.
One scene in particular jumped out at me for being a perfect blend of exemplary acting, and nuanced theme development. At one point, the mother (Emily Blunt) went into labor and needed to give birth. Obviously, giving birth is not a quiet event for the vast majority of women, which attracted the monsters. The suspense of watching her attempt to go through this incredibly difficult process without making a sound while a monster lurked right by her left me on the edge of my seat. It also beautifully reinforced the film’s overarching themes of sound dependency and human adaptation.
The monsters served as intriguing antagonists, but ultimately their inconsistency drastically detracted from the suspense of the movie. Often times, the scariest things in life are not the horrible creatures themselves, but the anticipation of running into them. The most intense moments always happen prior to the strike. Instead of embracing this truth, the film went too direct with revealing the monsters and what they looked like at too many points in the film. How many times have there been all kinds of suspense built up in a film, only to have the audience bitterly disappointed when they finally see the root cause of the terror inflicted upon the public? It is a huge problem with the genre. I do not want to point any fingers here, but Cloverfield, I am looking right at you.
Oftentimes, it felt like these “scary” creatures made three phone calls and ordered a grand slam at a local Denny’s before going after the sound making perpetrators. I’m pretty sure I’ve had visits at the DMV that went by faster than some of these attacks made on the characters in this movie. Some general ambiguity and quick strike deaths would have gone a long way in keeping me completely spooked throughout the film.
Given that this film intended to thrill and serve as a borderline horror movie, this decision took away a lot of that tension. If they decide to make a sequel, this issue ought to be addressed, because, for me, it was the difference between the film being “good” and being “great.”
Even though I was not the biggest fan of the monsters themselves or the ways they were utilized, “A Quiet Place” implemented an innovative concept, and created an immersive environment that gave me greater respect for the role that sound plays in everyday life.
Oscar Watch: Originally, I did not plan to review this movie because it came out in April and well… April is a distant memory now and films not titled “Get Out” or “The Grand Budapest Hotel” or “Mad Max: Fury Road” rarely make the Oscar cut when they get released that early in the game. On second thought, now that I reflect on it, a respectable amount of movies that come out earlier in the year get nominations. At the end of the day, given the film’s originality, I thought it would be worth covering it, because I would say it has anywhere between a five to 10 percent chance at a nomination. People are starting to warm up to this film, and you never know what could happen. I thoroughly appreciate husband John Krasinski and his wife Emily Blunt’s efforts to think outside the box. I hate to admit it (Emily I thought we had something…), but they are a true power couple.
Likely Nomination With a Chance at Winning
Sound Editing: The way they created sounds for the monsters to make them seem believable was awesome. Sometimes the academy likes to reward movies that make sounds for fictional creatures (see: Arrival), so there is a possibility “A Quiet Place” takes home the hardware for this category.
Sound Mixing: The film’s ability to balance silence and sound was nothing short of magnificent. Depending on the Academy’s tastes this year, it could be in serious contention for the prize.
Long Shot Nominations:
Best Editing: They, for the most part, seamlessly transitioned the sounds and the film was cut well. There are a lot of contenders this year, so if it does get in the mix, odds are it will be there as a courtesy nomination and not a legitimate contender.
Best Cinematography: The action shots were excellent and generally speaking, the angles were well played. I would’ve liked a little bit more ambiguity with the monsters and less shots that fully reveal them, which is why I am not convinced it will be a serious contender in this category
Best Original Screenplay: Although most of the movie was technically silent, the writing itself was deceptively realistic and profound. I could see it sneaking in a nomination.